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DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US

DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Reflecting On Human Rights In Africa Today

Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion, 10 December 2007

DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
DIGNITY AND JUSTICE FOR ALL OF US 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Foreword

Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

W hen the General Assembly of the

United Nations adopted the Univer-

sal Declaration of Human Rights

on 10 December 1948 its members

foresaw a future in which justice and equality for all would be realised.

Sixty years on, this dream is still to be actualised in many of the world’s countries that adopted the Universal Declaration. While many states have laws and principles setting out legal human rights frameworks that are to be commended, in reality, these frameworks all too often remain just that, and

human rights are not translated into a reality that is lived or experienced on a daily basis by the citizens these frameworks set out to protect. The world in the early 21st Century still has

much work to do before the vision of those founding

drafters is achieved. The first step is in being self-

critical – something the Dignity and Justice For All:

Reflecting on Human Rights in Africa Today Human

Rights Lecture And Roundtable Discussion held at

the South African Human Rights Commission on

December 10, 2007, sought to achieve. We hope you enjoy reading through the

proceedings.

Achmat Dangor, CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation

Foreword Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us W

David Johnson, Regional Representative, United Nations Commissioner for Human Rights

Foreword Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us W

Tseliso Thipanyane, CEO, South African Human Rights Commission

Foreword Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us W

Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights
Launch of a Year-long Celebration of the 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

The Campaign

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) turns 60 on December 10, 2008. Today, on Human Rights Day 2007, the United Nations launches a year- long UN system-wide advocacy campaign to mark

this important milestone. The campaign, an initiative

of the United Nations Secretary-General, will be led by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, and

supported by UN agencies, departments and funds, and other international and local partners, to celebrate the Declaration and the promise that has made this document so enduring: “Dignity And Justice For All Of Us”.

The year-long commemoration, culminating on Human Rights Day 2008, aims to continue to raise

awareness of the Declaration and its relevance to people around the world. The campaign aims to engage the wide participation of individuals and institutions – from global organisations to grassroots advocacy groups – to make the Declaration a reality for all. The Declaration opened the door to much progress but there is no room for complacency, as the almost daily litany of human rights violations around the world demonstrates.

The Logo

The anniversary campaign is symbolised by the

UDHR60 logo, which depicts a human shape standing

with arms wide open. The yellow and red symbol represents liberation and equality. The yellow is a sign of peace and warmth. The symbol is set on a solid block which represents the foundation of human rights. The earthy red colour of the block reinforces human

rights as a foundation stone and as humankind’s common heritage.

The UDHR60 logo, in full colour or as a single

colour, is available with text in Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian and Spanish and will be used during the anniversary period; from December 10, 2007 to December 31, 2008. The logo is available on the

OHCHR website. Please contact us on 60anniversary@

ohchr.org for guidelines on its usage.

The Theme

The UDHR60 logo comes with words that encapsulate

the promise of the Declaration: “Dignity And Justice

For All Of Us”. It reinforces the vision of the UDHR as the first international recognition that fundamental

rights and freedoms are inalienable and inherent to all human beings, that every one of us is born free and equal. The phrase also serves as a rallying call, for the promise of dignity and justice is far from realised for everyone.

The UDHR is a living document that matters not only in times of conflict and in societies suffering

repression, but also in addressing social injustice

and achieving human dignity in times of peace in

established democracies. Non-discrimination, equality

and fairness – key components of justice – form the

foundation of the UDHR. And no matter where you

live, how much money you have, what faith you practise or political view you hold, all the human rights in the Declaration apply to you, everywhere, always.

www.knowyourrights2008.org

The United Nations Regional Information Centre

(UNRIC) in Brussels has created a new website,

www.knowyourrights2008.org, as a repository of ideas

to commemorate the year of human rights. The highly interactive website enables people all over the world to

upload and download multimedia files and share their

projects and initiatives on the Universal Declaration. The website www.knowyourright2008.org was launched on December 10, 2007.

Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

Contents

Welcome and Introductions, Jody Kollapen, South African Human Rights Commission

Page 6

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga, African Commissioner on Human and People’s Rights:

The Legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Africa Roundtable Discussion:

Page 8

Raenette Taljaard, Helen Suzman Foundation

Page 15

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United Nations Offfice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights

Page 20

Jody Kollapen, South African Human Rights Commission

Page

22

Discussion and Questions

Page 25

Reflections

Page 32

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Page 36

The text contained in this booklet is an edited version of transcripts of the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us: 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which took place on December 10, 2007 at the South African Human Rights Commission in Johannesburg, South Africa.

We would like to thank all the panellists, (pictured below from left to right) Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Raenette Taljaard, Achmat Dangor (facilitator of the discussion), Jacqueline Nzoyihera and Jody Kollapen, for their participation.

Contents Welcome and Introductions, Jody Kollapen, South African Human Rights Commission Page 6 Commissioner Bahame Tom

Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

Welcome and Introductions

Jody Kollapen

Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission

  • I ’d like to welcome you not just in the name of the South African Human Rights Commission, but also in the name of the two organisations that are jointly hosting this roundtable: the

Nelson Mandela Foundation, which is represented

here by its Chief Executive Officer Mr Achmat

Dangor – it’s been a pleasure to work with the

Foundation – and then the United Nations Office

of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, with whom we’ve really developed a good working rela- tionship over the last few years.

On a day like this [December 10, 2007, the anniversary

of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948], we ought to take time out to reflect on 60 years

of the Declaration and what it really means. Few people can argue against the notion that in some ways, we’ve made remarkable progress. There’s a charter, treaty and convention that deals with virtually every aspect of human existence. And if a litmus test was done on how well we’ve progressed in terms of setting standards, then we would pass that test very easily.

But the reality is that we can’t use that as the basis

Welcome and Introductions Jody Kollapen Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission I ’d like to welcome

Jody Kollapen.

to judge progress, important as it may be. We have to look at the reality of the lives of the citizens of this world in terms of making an assessment. And if the truth be told, we haven’t done as well as the founding fathers and mothers envisioned. The fact of the matter is that almost every month, something like 250 000 children die as a result of illness and disease that could have been avoided.

I attended a lecture not long ago, and an Indian human rights activist said that the dream of an Indian farmer is to die and to be reincarnated as a cow in Europe or America – because

$2 a day is being spent on cows in Europe and America whereas millions of people in the world have to live on less than $1 a day. Now that’s the reality of the world in which we live, and it’s

that reality that these international instruments must address. Clearly from that perspective, people may be

cynical in asking, well, have democracy and human rights really changed the lives and reality of people?

A United Nations Development Programme survey

done in Latin America about three years ago found that

a large majority of people polled said they would not

mind a return to totalitarian rule, if it meant that the material conditions in their lives improved. I think we must take seriously those kinds of

sentiments that people reflect and articulate from

time to time. Certainly in the context of our own country, those challenges are real. Indian

economist and Nobel Prize

laureate, Amartya Sen, spoke about the two perspectives of democracy in the context of

Almost every month, something like 250 000 children die as a result of illness and disease that could have been avoided.

poverty and inequality during a visit to South Africa. One was what he called the “public ballot perspective

of democracy”. That’s reasonably self-explanatory: the

ability to hold public elections and to ensure citizens are able to elect the leaders of their choice. I think if we look at what’s happened in South Africa and in many parts of the world, most societies are able to pass that test, reasonably well – the “public ballot perspective of democracy”.

But then he went on to say that there’s a second

and more important perspective of democracy, something he called the “public reasoning perspective

of democracy”. By that he meant the ability of

governments to respond to public reasoning, and what he called “government by discussion”. With respect, that perspective of democracy is often

lacking in many of the world’s democracies. It may well be lacking in this country as well, if we look at how citizens don’t use democratic institutions but use other means to get the attention of their government. It’s an area of concern.

So, with that reflection I’d like to welcome you all to

this roundtable, and to the lecture that will be delivered

on the occasion of the celebration of 60 years of the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights. We’ve been

particularly privileged to have been able to convince

Bahame Tom Nyanduga, who is a commissioner on the

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights, to

come to South Africa at this time.

Bahame is a lawyer by training, a judge in Tanzania,

and has certainly distinguished himself both in his

country, and also on the continent. He also serves as

the Special Rapporteur on Refugees and the Rights

of Asylum Seekers and Internally Displaced People.

His reputation on the continent amongst human rights

activists is well known.

  • I was pleasantly surprised when we attended a

meeting in Kigali in which nominations for positions on a committee were made. My colleagues and I sat there politely, hoping that someone would nominate

us. The first hand went up, and it was Country A, and

they nominated themselves. And before we knew it,

all the seats had been filled. But when Bahame came

to speak during a session later that day, he said “You know, I hope we can revisit what we understand by democracy and how we participate in these decisions! I mean what happened this morning was simply unacceptable.”

  • I don’t think people liked that, but I think it was

refreshing, honest and frank. People had not wanted to

create the best committee, but were more concerned

about their own self-interest. So Bahame, welcome, it’s been great to have you

here, and we certainly look forward to listening to

poverty and inequality during a visit to South Africa. One was what he called the “public

Chairperson of the South African Human Rights Commission, Jody Kollapen, introduces the lecture and roundtable discussion while other panellists look on.

Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

The Legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights

to Africa Lessons, challenges and prospects

Bahame Tom Nyanduga

Commissioner with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa

I t gives me great pleasure to be here today, as

the guest speaker on the occasion of the anni-

versary of the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights.

I feel honoured and privileged to be here, in my capacity as a member of the African Commission on

Human and People’s Rights, to celebrate an important

milestone for humankind, the adoption of the Universal Declaration. The occasion presents us with

an opportunity to reflect on the legacy of the Universal

Declaration to humanity. The anniversary of the Universal Declaration is an opportunity for the international community and humanity to take stock of its achievements, challenges, and failures in our common pursuit of the realisation of human rights. The adoption of the Universal Declaration in 1948 constituted a major achievement

in the codification of the basic rights and fundamental

freedoms in the modern era. Yet the full realisation of the rights enshrined in the Declaration remains elusive

for many peoples across the world. The invitation reached me a few days after the

African Commission on Human and People’s Rights

had completed its 42nd Ordinary Session, which took

place in Congo, Brazzaville, from November 14 - 28

2007. I had no hesitation in accepting the invitation,

for two reasons. The first is that conferences such as

this form part of the African Commission’s mandate

of promoting human and people’s rights in Africa. The

African Charter on Human and People’s Rights enjoins

the African Commission to “encourage national and local institutions concerned in the promotion and protection of human and people’s rights” in their work. This occasion therefore allows me to extend the

The Legacy of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to Africa Lessons, challenges and prospects Bahame

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga.

African Commission’s support and encouragement to

both the South African Human Rights Commission and

the Nelson Mandela Foundation, for the work they are doing in ensuring that the basic rights and freedoms of the people of South Africa are not only attainable but achievable.

My participation in this conference confirms

the emerging partnership between the national

and continental stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, the national human rights institutions, and organs of the African Union, in the work that each one of us does in the promotion and protection of human rights, as stipulated by the African Charter

of Human and People’s Rights, the objectives and

principles of the Constitutive Act of the African Union, and other relevant human rights instruments.

The South African Human Rights Commission, as is

the case with other national human rights institutions

across Africa, enjoys affiliate status with the African

Commission. During the 42nd Ordinary Session, the African Commission deliberated on the need to further enhance its relationship with national human rights institutions. The African Commission looks forward to an enhanced collaboration with the South African

Human Rights Commission in the better protection

of human rights. The work currently being done by

your commission with regard to improved access to economic, social and cultural rights in South Africa is an inspiration to the African Commission and other

African states. I wish to pay tribute to Nelson Mandela for his foresight in establishing the Foundation. Mr Mandela and the Foundation have steadfastly directed their attention to critical human rights issues, in particular

the welfare of children and the fight against HIV/

AIDS. Article 18 of the African Charter enshrines the right to health, and the protection of the rights of children. I therefore take this opportunity to congratulate the Nelson Mandela Foundation and

encourage its staff in their work. To Mr Mandela, I wish him good health and long life. My second reason for accepting the invitation is closely related to this anniversary. November 2 2007 marked the 20th anniversary of the African

Commission of Human and People’s Rights. The

African Commission took the opportunity to examine its successes, achievements, challenges and failures.

These are many, some of them specific and peculiar to

the African situation. One of the major challenges facing the African Commission has been resource constraints, thereby impacting its capacity to carry out its mandate. The adoption of the Universal Declaration in 1948, coming in the wake of the United Nations Charter in 1945, was a major accomplishment, at a time the world had just emerged from the scourge of the Second World War. The United Nations Charter, adopted in 1945,

and continental stakeholders, such as civil society organisations, the national human rights institutions, and organs of

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga: “The African Commission looks forward to an enhanced collaboration with the South African Human Rights Commission in the better protection of human rights.”

The United Nations Charter,

adopted in 1945, reaffirmed its

“faith in the fundamental human rights, and the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of all nations large and small”.

reaffirmed its “faith in the fundamental human rights,

and the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of all nations large and small”. When we look at the Charter, we see that from the outset the founding fathers of the United Nations were inspired by human rights ideals and principles. The United Nations adopted as one of its purposes

and principles the promotion and encouragement of “respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language, or religion”. Articles 55 and 56 of the United Nations Charter enjoin member states and the United Nations to create conditions for higher standards of living, full employment, conditions of economic and social progress, and development; the promotion

The equality and non- discrimination principles, which were eloquently and elaborately enshrined in these historical instruments, were deemed by the colonial powers as non-realisable rights for the people living in colonial non-governing and trusteeship territories.

of international co-operation to find solutions to

economic and social problems, and the promotion of

universal respect for and observance of human rights and fundamental freedoms without distinction. The member states pledged to take joint and separate action for the achievements of those purposes.

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly three

years later in 1948, based on the principles already established by the United Nations Charter. The Universal Declaration recognised the inalienability of the inherent dignity and equality of members of the human family as the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world. The member states of the United Nations pledged to proclaim the Universal Declaration as the common standard for the achievement by all peoples and nations, every individual and every society, to promote respect for the rights and freedoms, and to progressively secure their universal and effective recognition and observance. The United Nations was at the time a monopoly

of the colonial powers, and the victorious powers of World War II. At San Francisco in 1945, during the adoption of the United Nations Charter, Africa was

grossly under-represented. Only two states, Ethiopia

and Liberia, out of the 53 African states, participated in the San Francisco conference. The United Nations Charter, in conformity with its principles, imposed

obligations on colonial powers administering non-

governing territories, to “accept as a sacred trust the

obligation to promote to the utmost … the well-being

of the inhabitants of these territories

, to ensure, with

... due regard for the culture of the peoples concerned,

their political, economic, social, and educational advancement, their just treatment and their protection from abuse”. With regard to trusteeship territories under the International Trusteeship System, the UN Charter obliged the trusteeship powers “to promote

the political, economic, social and educational advancement of the inhabitants of the trust territories, and their progressive development towards self governance or independence”. And: “to encourage respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction as to race, sex, language or religion and to encourage recognition of interdependence of the peoples of the world”. The Universal Declaration was adopted at the time

of the popular anti-colonial struggles, and when the

demand for freedom and independence by the people in the colonial territories was gaining momentum. The freedom movement in Africa was greatly inspired by the ideals and principles for equality and respect for human rights enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration. Yet the colonial powers

continued to administer the non-self-governing and

trusteeship territories without regard for the rights enshrined in the UN Charter, nor the pledge they made

towards the Universal Declaration.

The equality and non-discrimination principles,

which were eloquently and elaborately enshrined in these historical instruments, were deemed by the

colonial powers as non-realisable rights for the people

living in colonial non-governing and trusteeship

territories. It is not a coincidence of history that the United Nations adopted a number of instruments in the 1960s and later, giving concrete content to the principles

The equality and non- discrimination principles, which were eloquently and elaborately enshrined in these historical instruments,

Human rights lawyer Advocate George Bizos (left) in discussion with Verne Harris of the Nelson Mandela Foundation.

Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights delivers his address.

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga of the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights delivers his address.

contained in the Universal Declaration. The changed international political environment dictated by the

Cold War, the decolonisation process and non-

Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination, the International Covenants of

1966 (which comprised the International Covenant

alignment, meant that the major imperial powers no longer had a monopoly over international affairs or the perception of human rights. The emergence of new states on the international political landscape gave practical content to the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration, the two most important instruments in international affairs. The idea that the peoples in the metropolitan colonial powers

were superior to the subjects in the colonies could no

longer be justified or sustained.

The involvement of new states in the work of the

United Nations shaped international human rights law and the territorial scope of protection by the international human rights system. The new states

participated in the treaty-making

on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, the

International Covenant of Civil and Political Rights

and the International Covenant on Elimination of All

Forms of Racial Discrimination), the 1979 Convention

on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women, and the 1989 Convention on the

Rights of the Child were all inspired by the Universal Declaration and were adopted through the effective participation of former colonies, in particular the African states. Notwithstanding the fact that all these instruments have universal application, they address issues of immediate relevance and impact to African peoples. The policies of apartheid and racial discrimination were critical to the adoption of

process, unlike the process in

the 1940s. Hence, the emergence

of numerous international human rights instruments and institutions dedicated to the promotion and protection of human rights gave the Universal Declaration broader recognition

As we celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration, we are celebrating Africa’s contribution to the evolution of international human rights law.

the International Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Racial Discrimination. We may wish to note that in spite of the ideals and inherent values of freedom, justice and peace, many powerful states have not

ratified major human rights

and legitimacy. New member states joining the United Nations pledged to abide by the principles enshrined in the UN Charter and the Universal Declaration. At the international level various international instruments such as the 1965 International

instruments. As we celebrate the adoption of the Universal Declaration, we are celebrating Africa’s contribution

to the evolution of international human rights law. We have seen that colonial powers and the

apartheid and other racist regimes (prior to their

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. international isolation) claimed to

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

international isolation) claimed to respect the UN

states adopting political and economic reforms which

Charter and the Universal Declaration, but in reality they systematically violated the human rights of the colonial subjects in Africa and elsewhere. Independence and democratisation for the people of Africa are inextricably linked to the realisation of human rights.

The impact of the Universal Declaration at the regional and national levels in Africa

At the dawn of African independence in the late 1950s

have brought stability to a large part of the continent.

However, there are pockets where the human rights

situation remains critical.

When the Organisation of African Unity (OAU) was

established in 1963, it derived inspiration from key objectives and principles contained in the UN Charter

and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The

preamble of the OAU Charter reaffirmed that these

principles “provide a solid foundation for peaceful and

positive co-operation among states”.

and early 1960s, many African states were beset by major human rights challenges, ranging from poverty and disease to political instability associated with

military coups, totalitarianism, ethnic conflict and civil

The Constitutive Act of the African Union went further than the OAU Charter, by stipulating as one of its objectives that it shall “encourage international

co-operation taking due account of the Charter of

war. The ideological divide during the Cold War led

the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of

Human Rights”.

to many conflicts in Africa, which caused massive

human rights violations, such as war crimes and crimes against humanity, wars of aggression and apartheid throughout the second part of the 20th Century. The Rwanda genocide marked the gravest violation of human rights since Africa had emerged from colonialism. The end of apartheid and the Cold War witnessed many African

I explained earlier the positive contribution by African states in the articulation

In spite of the ideals and inherent values of freedom, justice and peace, many powerful states

have not ratified

major human rights instruments.

of international human rights standards through the United Nations. I must state, however, that the implementation of human rights obligations by many African states has not been very encouraging.

The African Commission has observed that in spite of the

universal ratification of the African

Charter on Human and People’s Rights by all AU

member states, the enjoyment of the rights enshrined in the African Charter is not fully guaranteed. This amounts to a negation of the Universal Declaration. The African Commission, established to monitor the implementation of the Charter, faces severe human and material resource constraints. Its capacity to address the human rights challenges facing the continent is limited. Other African human rights bodies such as

the African Court on Human and People’s Rights and

the African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child face similar or worse situations. The African Commission’s special mechanisms, responsible for the rights of indigenous peoples, refugees and internally displaced persons, human rights, freedom of expression, and the rights of women, are supported by external donors, without which these activities would not have been accomplished. The

Commission appreciates the extra budgetary support extended to it by the government of the Republic of South Africa. Secondly, a considerable number of African states

have not ratified various human rights instruments

adopted by the African Union. The protocol

establishing the Africa Court on Human and People’s

Rights is one of them. Article 34(6) of the Protocol

requires state parties to deposit declarations accepting

that NGOs and individual victims can access the

court. Without such a declaration, the court cannot exercise jurisdiction in cases of violations of human

and people’s rights. So far only one AU member state,

Burkina Faso, has deposited the declaration. The Protocol entered into force on January 24,

2004, and the judges of the court were sworn in in June 2006. The court is currently setting up its registry

and finalising its rules of procedure. The court and the

commission must harmonise their rules of procedure, to allow for the complementary relationship provided

for under the protocol, and access by NGOs and

individuals. Unless all these measures are put in place,

the court is likely to remain redundant for some time to come.

The Protocol on the Rights of Women in Africa,

adopted in July 2003 and entered into force on

The struggle to establish a human rights culture in Africa cannot be won unless Africans address the causes of massive human rights violations.

Charter on Human and People’s Rights by all AU member states, the enjoyment of the rights

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga: “African states have the duty to ensure that their people enjoy the basic rights and fundamental freedoms.”

November 25, 2005, is also yet to acquire broad

ratification. The protocol is an important instrument for

guaranteeing the equality of women. It recognises the inherent dignity in a woman and the right to participate in public affairs and in making decisions in matters affecting women, protects women against harmful

traditional practices and protects the right of widows, and rights to economic and social welfare, among others. The protocol complements the groundbreaking

gender parity principle enshrined in Article 4(l) of the

Constitutive Act of the African Union. The struggle to establish a human rights culture in Africa cannot be won unless Africans address the

causes of massive human rights violations. In spite of

the setbacks I have recounted above, the conflicts, the

poverty and the despair we see in places like Chad,

Central African Republic, Darfur, Somalia, the north-

east Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe, the Universal Declaration continues to inspire many people in Africa and beyond, to aspire for attainment of equality, peace and justice. African states have the duty to ensure that their people enjoy the basic rights and fundamental freedoms, in accordance with their democratic constitutions and the obligations under regional and international human rights instruments. The citizenry must be able to freely participate in the public affairs of each state. States must ensure the equitable

distribution of resources so that economic, social and

cultural rights, and the benefits of their economic

and natural resources, reach every individual and

communities. To do otherwise is likely to lead to the marginalisation of sections of the population. Among the causes contributing to the violation of human rights in Africa are civil wars, economic mismanagement and deprivation, and bad governance. The refusal or failure by some African states to take responsibility for massive human rights violations continues to concern the African Commission. Freedom, justice and peace, proclaimed in the

Universal Declaration of Human Rights, remain very

important elements for sustaining a culture for human rights.

Africa must re-examine its priorities if it is to

come out of the culture of conflict and poverty. It

must decide to work for freedom, justice, peace and development, or perpetually continue to suffer the

scourge of wars and conflicts, and attendant massive

human rights violations. Africa has historically allowed

its rich resources to become causes of conflict. African

states adopted the African Charter and enshrined the right to dispose of their natural resources in the interest of the people, as well as the rights to peace, development and a safe environment. The efforts of the African Union and individual

African states through the New Partnership for

Africa’s Development’s (Nepad) and the African Peer

Review Mechanism’s good governance, human rights and economic development programmes must be consolidated in order to address development problems

Africa must re-examine its priorities if it has to come out

of the culture of conflict and

poverty. It must decide to work for freedom, justice, peace and development, or perpetually continue to suffer the scourge of

wars and conflicts, and attendant

massive human rights violations.

such as corruption, misallocation of resources,

conflicts and poverty.

I wish to end here by highlighting the recent

report, Africa’s Missing Billions: International Arms Flows and the Costs of Conflict, by Debbie Hillier, of Oxfam, for the International Action Network on Small Arms and Oxfam International, published in October 2007. The report highlights the annual

economic costs of conflicts to Africa, whereby Africa spends US$18- billion on armaments annually. This is

equivalent to the annual foreign aid received by Africa. The report illustrates in stark reality the economic

consequences of conflict, which when translated into

human rights terms indicates the scope of violations of

human rights in Africa. The report states as follows:

“Africa is further from attaining the Millennium

Development Goals (MDGs) than any other region,

and armed conflict is one important factor in this.

Compared to peaceful African countries, African

cultural rights, and the benefits of their economic and natural resources, reach every individual and communities.

Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga and Raenette Taljaard of the Helen Suzman Foundation.

countries in conflict have an average 50 percent more

infant deaths; 15 percent more undernourished people;

life expectancy reduced by five years; 20 percent more

adult illiteracy; 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient and 12.4 percent less food per person.

“Of course, costs are not borne equally across the population, and inequalities often arise as many

conflicts are fought along regional, social, religious

and ethnic lines.” What we see in real terms through this report

is that conflicts have perpetuated poverty and

underdevelopment, which constitute grave violations

of human rights. Conflicts have diverted resources,

which could have been utilised to enhance the rights to life, the right to food, the right to mental and physical

health, the right to education, and the rights of women and children, who are most vulnerable during

conflicts. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, in her

foreword to the report, put it more graphically: “As an economist, I am acutely aware of the devastation to African economies due to armed violence …”

Referring to the US$18-billion spent on the arms

trade by Africa, she continues: “This is money Africa

can ill afford to lose. The sums are appalling, the price that Africa is paying could cover the cost of

solving the HIV and AIDs crisis in Africa, or provide education, water and prevention and treatment of TB

and malaria. Literally thousands of hospitals, schools and roads could have been built, positively affecting millions

of people. Not only do the people of Africa suffer

the physical horrors of violence, armed conflict

undermines their efforts to escape poverty.” The report concludes: “Our rough estimate is

that armed conflict alone has cost Africa around $300- billion since 1990, or $18-billion per year – costing each conflict country an average 15% of its GDP.”

In other words, unless Africa decides to bid farewell

to conflicts and armament, and decides to respect and

protect the human rights of its peoples, peace and development are not likely to be fully realised. Africa must begin to invest in the human security of its

people instead of the destruction of its most valuable

asset. We must stop being caught up in the proverbial

“vicious circle” of poverty, conflict, and massive

violation of human rights. What this means is that by continuing to embrace

conflicts, corruption and bad governance, Africa will

not have changed the colonial master plan, whereby

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was

perceived as inapplicable to the native. Instead we will continue to languish in poverty, while blaming others for our own misdeeds.

The post-independent African state has therefore

the duty and responsibility to ensure that the African people enjoy the basic rights and fundamental freedoms enshrined in the Universal Declaration, which they have pledged to respect, together with all

other international and regional instruments they have

ratified, instead of being the violators of the rights of

its subjects.

In so doing, Africa shall have contributed to making

the Universal Declaration of Human Rights the reality

that it ought to be and a bastion of hope for all.

Compared to peaceful African countries,

African countries in conflict have on average:

r 50 percent more infant deaths r 15 percent more undernourished people r life expectancy reduced by five years r 20 percent more adult illiteracy r 2.5 times fewer doctors per patient r 12.4 percent less food per person – Oxfam International

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Bahame Tom Nyanduga, LLB (Hons), UDSM, LLM (LSE, London) PGD, Int Law (The Hague), is a

Bahame Tom Nyanduga, LLB (Hons), UDSM, LLM (LSE, London) PGD, Int Law (The Hague), is a Tanzanian lawyer and advocate of the High Court of Tanzania, based in Dar es Salaam. He was elected to the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights (ACHPR) in July 2003. Between 2004 and 2006 he served as president of the East Africa Law Society and was president of the Tanganyika Law Society from 2000 to 2001. He served as a legal consultant on the Secretariat of the Burundi Peace Negotiations from December 1998 to August 2000, and previously worked in Tanzania’s diplomatic service. He is currently the a commissioner and ACHPR’s Special Rapporteur for Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa. He is currently Commissioner with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa.

Panel Discussion

Raenette Taljaard

Director, Helen Suzman Foundation

I would like to indicate that I took an open

you today.

architecture to the topic and you will see that

in some of the comments I will be offering to

It is indeed a great honour to be with you on

this important day of celebration, reflection and

contemplation. I received this invitation whilst at the

John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard with a group of Young Global Leaders of the World

Economic Forum, sharpening our thoughts on leadership in the 21st Century, and was extremely honoured. During our last evening we had a memorable dinner at the Kennedy Library and I was struck by Senator Robert Kennedy’s words in his address to the young people of South Africa at the University of Cape Town on June 6 1966:

“Few of us will have the greatness to bend history itself, but each one of us can work to change a small portion of events, and in the total of all those acts will be written the history of this generation. “Each time a man stands for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope. And crossing each

other from a million centres of energy and daring, those ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” It is particularly poignant to celebrate the 60th year

of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights with

the theme “Dignity And Justice For All Of Us”, and

to do so under the auspices of the Nelson Mandela Foundation – a foundation that celebrates the very values of dignity and justice for all that were both the focus of Mandela’s struggle for liberation in South Africa and the moral compass of his authentic leadership. “Dignity And Justice For All Of Us” has resonance

both globally and locally. Globally, the inequalities that

persist in an era of globalisation hinder the cause of dignity and justice for all. The increase in various levels

Panel Discussion Raenette Taljaard Director, Helen Suzman Foundation I would like to indicate that I took

Raenette Taljaard addresses the audience.

of religious intolerance and the “war on terror” also create tensions between security and civil liberties both at home and abroad. And locally, persistent levels of inequality endanger

the objectives of liberation from poverty, and HIV and

AIDS have created a new generation of silent divisions that hampers dignity and justice for us all.

It is fitting, therefore, that we dwell very briefly on

the global and local vision of the theme of “Dignity And Justice For All Of Us”.

As United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon

has indicated in launching the celebratory theme for

“As United Nations Secretary- General Ban Ki-Moon has indicated in launching the celebratory theme for next year:

it is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere.”

next year: it is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. “It is often those who most need their human rights protected,” he suggests, “who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists – and that it exists for them.”

Our own Bill of Rights puts it equally beautifully

in placing a positive obligation on the state to respect,

protect and promote the rights enshrined: “The Bill of

Rights is a cornerstone of democracy in South Africa.

It enshrines the rights of all people in our country and

affirms the democratic values of human dignity, equality

and freedom.” These are the goals and objectives we have set ourselves.

But as we know, institutional hurdles often get in the

way of visions and I would like to highlight some of

these hurdles, both at the global level and local level. Firstly, some key institutional challenges globally. One of the sterling achievements of former UN

Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s term of office was

the adoption of the active “responsibility to protect” doctrine as a key new cornerstone of the UN’s role in the maintenance of international peace and security. Whilst much remains to be done to develop both the concept and key actions that can be triggered around it – and we can already point to some manifest problems

We need to ask ourselves how far have we have moved from the conceptualisation of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine towards actually operationalising and acting in accordance with it?

– this new thinking heralded a watershed which requires more work. Equally, the adoption of the resolution on Darfur

– creating a joint African Union/UN mandate for a

mission that combined Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 Charter actions, heralded a new form of doing business and actioning a vision of a world hallmarked by dignity and

justice for all.

Similarly the scope for an AU-EU agreement in

Lisbon that looks at ways in which the EU can help AU peace missions is a key step to making the protections in the Universal Declaration real for millions who still

suffer the dehumanising effects of conflict.

We need to ask ourselves how far have we have

moved from the conceptualisation of the “responsibility to protect” doctrine towards actually operationalising and acting in accordance with it?

next year: it is our duty to ensure that these rights are a living reality –

A participant at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us: 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights listens to one of the speakers.

Some of the efforts that have been made to create new joint Chapter 7 and 8 mandates in response to the Darfur situation have certainly grappled with how one moves forward in operational terms, but there is much more that needs to be done. As we gather here, new commitments have also emerged in Lisbon between the European Union and the African Union with respect to joint peacekeeping operations under these new joint Chapter 7 and Chapter 8 mandates.

But even within UN structures, there is a desperate

need to review the performance of the new United

Nations Human Rights Council – one of the institutional

changes that followed the debates and discussions of Annan’s “In Larger Freedom” document that called for

key UN reforms. As was the case with its institutional

predecessor, the UN Human Rights Commission, there

are clear signs that the new structure is not living up to

the vision of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and that some soul-searching is required.

Whilst the new structure has only been up for a year

and it may be early days to judge its operation and performance, I think it’s emerging quite clearly that

some of the challenges confronting the UN Human

Some of the efforts that have been made to create new joint Chapter 7 and 8

The Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us: 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was held at the South African Human Rights Commission’s offices in Johannesburg.

Eternal vigilance is therefore required to protect the dignity and justice of all, both in the developing world and the developed world, where we may believe these objectives have been achieved.

Rights Commission have transmogrified into the performance of the UN Human Rights Council. Some of

the stresses and strains are certainly evident, not only in South Africa’s own voting patterns, but indeed in both the composition and the operation of the structure. This has implications for the precedents that are set that we may also be following on our continent. It is

crucial that we do not rest in parts of the world where we believe the Universal Declaration’s vision has been adopted and institutionalised, as new forms of threats

to human dignity can always be present. The so-called

“developed world” is under increasing strain, both by

virtue of its response to global migration, but also due to the pressures placed on civil liberties under the banner of the “War on Terror”, to adhere to the Universal

Declaration on Human Rights and not invoke doctrines

of exceptionalism to actually undermine civil liberty doctrines. In an era of growing securitisation under the

banner of terrorism, it is possible for key tenets of the declaration to be undermined, as civil liberties are gradually eroded. These may seem distant issues when one confronts

countries that are emerging from conflict on our

continent, but they are certainly germane in the way in which they can potentially infect the ethos of the human rights culture that we want to bequeath to the world. Eternal vigilance is therefore required to protect the dignity and justice of all, both in the developing world and the developed world, where we may believe these

objectives have been achieved.

Here at home, a number of challenges also present

themselves en route to ensuring dignity and justice for all. First and foremost is the challenge of making rights real in a society with ongoing and persistent inequality and poverty, and the new, dehumanising effects of

HIV/AIDS. It remains a key challenge to ensure that the

dividends of dignity and justice follow the victory of freedom over adversity.

It remains a key challenge to mainstream the fight

against HIV and AIDS as a new arena of struggle in

the human rights arena. Millions of South Africans

suffer the daily indignity of stigmatisation and marginalisation. I was delighted to see the extent of civil society movement in this arena on World AIDS Day in South Africa, as this involvement will help to shift the conceptual parameters of this debate squarely into the human rights arena. It remains a key challenge and a core calling for the South African Constitutional Court to provide

influential, life-altering jurisprudence in the field of human rights law, particularly regarding socio-economic

rights, and to assist in the progressive realisation of key rights in order to further the core objectives of the Universal Declaration at home and abroad. It also remains an important challenge for our country’s institutional human rights machinery to strengthen its resolve to assist millions of South Africans in growing an awareness of their rights

enshrined in our Bill of Rights, which draws on the

Universal Declaration’s vision, and to assist them in realising these rights. This is no small challenge. It remains incumbent, in a time of turmoil and succession, to ensure that our pronouncements and

actions do not undermine the vision of human rights in our Constitution or the rule of law, and to ensure that the principles that have been enshrined in our

jurisprudence are respected and protected. As Professor

Kader Asmal remarked in the past weekend’s Sunday Times with reference to recent pronouncements by ANC succession candidates: “In the South African arena, particularly, these ideas diminish the importance of the Constitution, the institutions established to implement the Constitution and the struggle waged to secure such a Constitution, of which opposition to the death penalty was always a key principle. The Constitution is the

basic safeguard of our democracy. Tamper with it, and you put our freedom in peril. Real leadership demands

In this century our bold and solemn undertaking to bring dignity and justice for all under its protection cannot be diminished. But we must muster the courage to rise to this challenge both at home and abroad in our actions, words and deeds.

It remains a key challenge to mainstream the fight against HIV and AIDS as a new

Raenette Taljaard: “We can only teach by example if we consistently fight and maintain our reputation as protectors and defenders of human rights.”

that leaders do not play to the gallery.” A recent visit to South Africa by a delegation of UK

parliamentarians serving on a committee on a Bill of Rights allowed for a moment of self-reflection on how

far we have come in our journey to localise the vision in the Universal Declaration in our Constitution. We have much to be proud of and have achieved great

things. But we must remain robust in asking whether

our institutions are living up to the Constitution and to

the liberation transition blood still coursing through our veins. It is enormously important that any generational change or change in leadership continues to protect and nurture our national project in building and expanding

our Constitution and Bill of Rights, as we have much to

offer and teach the world from our experience.

But we can only teach by example if we consistently fight and maintain our reputation as protectors and

defenders of human rights. This is particularly crucial

in the international arena, where questions have been posed about our role and voting patterns at the UN

Security Council, General Assembly and Human Rights

Council. Even if we have serious and correct points to make and arguments to offer about institutional adherence to rules and broader UN reform, we may win little skirmishes in our institutional contestations but

lose the longer-term war for UN reform as well as our

reputation for a foreign policy based on human rights – as it was under Mandela’s presidency – in the process.

We must not place our own human rights reputation on a

permanent knife-edge at the UN.

South Africa has the opportunity to proactively budget for the progressive realisation of human rights. Whilst arguments can cogently be made that we are

doing so given the scale of expenditure on socio-

economic rights areas, it would be a novel approach

to craft new methodologies to highlight how we are budgeting for progressive realisation of rights and for

specific compliance with Constitutional Court rulings in rights-related areas.

This would, in some cases, pose a challenge for

budget reporting formats – where allocations are already being made – but may pose even greater challenges in highlighting areas where necessary but perhaps not

sufficient provisioning can be made for progressive

realisation. In case we think the pressures of inequality, the global “War on Terror” or new forms of intolerance pose near insurmountable barriers to a vision of “Dignity and

Justice for All”, it is worth quoting the words of UN High

Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour about

the unwelcoming and hostile world that witnessed the birth of the Universal Declaration 60 years ago in 1948:

“It is difficult to imagine today just what a fundamental shift the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights represented when it was adopted 60 years ago.

In a post-war world scarred by the Holocaust, divided

by colonialism and wracked by inequality, a charter

setting out the first global and solemn commitment to

the inherent dignity and equality for all human beings, regardless of colour, creed or origin, was a bold and daring undertaking.” I think that when we shy away from the sheer scale of the challenge we confront, we sometimes forget the

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Raenette Taljaard, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, holds a BA in Law, a BA (Hons) cum laude in Political Science, an MA cum laude in Political Science and an MSc cum laude in Public Administration and Public Policy. Taljaard is a Yale World Fellow, a Fellow of the Emerging Leaders’ Programme of the Centre for Leadership and Public Values (UCT’s Graduate School of Business and Duke University) and a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum. She lectures both locally and abroad and publishes regularly.

Raenette Taljaard, director of the Helen Suzman Foundation, holds a BA in Law, a BA (Hons)
We must not place our own human rights reputation on a permanent knife-edge at the UN.

City Press editor Mathatha Tsedu (left) with human rights lawyer Advocate George Bizos.

scale of the challenge that was confronted in 1948. In this century our bold and solemn undertaking to bring dignity and justice for all under its protection cannot

be diminished. But we must muster the courage to

rise to this challenge both at home and abroad in our actions, words and deeds. Only then can we claim, as South Africans, to be living the values of Mandela and the Universal Declaration – values that are indeed interchangeable. I would like to also refer to the issues raised here

with respect to conflict. If one looks at the extent to

which conflict is interchangeable with the global flow

of arms, I think one of the greatest failures in the global community, ironically, doesn’t lie in the Universal

Declaration, but in the absence of an international treaty on the arms trade. If one looks at the countries that have been standing

in the way of this, it’s rather predictable which some of

the countries may have been, particularly those which adhere to a doctrine of exceptionalism. One of the potential hopeful signs is that the US Supreme Court is currently reviewing the constitutional provision on the

right to bear arms and America may be in for a minor

revolution in that regard if the court finds that this right

does not refer to individuals.

If that happens, we all hope, we may live in a world where the US will not stand against an international

arms trade treaty and we may fix one of the problems

that doesn’t lie in the Universal Declaration, but in a

different arena for a different fight.

Panel Discussion

Jacqueline Nzoyihera

UN Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued the following statement to mark Human Rights Day, which is commemorated on 10 December. The statement was read out at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion by Ms Jacqueline Nzoyihera, of the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNOHCHR).

A s we jointly celebrate Human Rights Day also launch the year- long campaign leading to the 60th anniversary of the Univer-

sal Declaration of Human Rights, we have cause to celebrate the accomplishments made, since 1948, on the road to ensuring fundamental freedoms for each one of us.

The Universal Declaration and its core

values – inherent human dignity, justice,

non-discrimination, equality, fairness and

universality – apply to everyone, everywhere, always. In all parts of the world, individuals, groups, organisations and governments have striven to transform into reality the promises contained in the Universal Declaration. Many have died in the pursuit of these ideals.

Today is also the day to reflect upon our

individual and collective failures to stand up against violence, racism, xenophobia, torture, repression of unpopular views and injustices of all sorts. In today’s growing divisions

between the rich and the poor, the powerful and the vulnerable, the technologically advanced and the illiterate, the aggressors and the victims, the relevance of the Declaration and the universality of the enshrined rights

need to be loudly reaffirmed.

In the course of this year, unprecedented efforts must be made to ensure that every

person in the world can rely on just laws for his or her protection. In advancing all human rights for all, we

will move towards the greatest fulfilment of

human potential, a promise which is at the heart of the Universal Declaration.

Panel Discussion Jacqueline Nzoyihera UN Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued the following statement to

Jacqueline Nzoyihera.

Panel Discussion Jacqueline Nzoyihera UN Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbour issued the following statement to

Raenette Taljaard (left) and Achmat Dangor.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Jacqueline Nzoyihera is a human rights lawyer from Burundi. She has worked for the United Nations in Geneva and New York and elsewhere around the world. She is currently based in Pretoria.

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United Nations Offfice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mothomang Diaho, Nelson Mandela

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United Nations Offfice of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, Mothomang Diaho, Nelson Mandela Foundation, Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Commissioner with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa, and Victoria Maloka, South African Human Rights Commission.

Message from the Secretary-General of the United Nations on Human Rights Day, 2007

O n this Human Rights Day, we launch a year-

long commemoration of the 60th anniver-

sary of the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights. The entire UN family will take part

in a campaign to promote the Declaration’s ideals and

principles of justice and equality for everyone.

The campaign reminds us that in a world still reeling from the horrors of the Second World War,

the Declaration was the first global statement of what

we now take for granted – the inherent dignity and

equality of all human beings. The extraordinary vision and determination of the

drafters produced a document that for the first time

set out universal human rights for all people in an individual context. Now available in more than 360 languages, the Declaration is the most translated document in the world – a testament to its universal nature and reach. It has inspired the constitutions

of many newly independent states and many new democracies. It has become a yardstick by which we measure respect for what we know, or should know, as right and wrong. The Declaration remains as relevant today as it

was on the day it was adopted. But the fundamental

freedoms enshrined in it are still not a reality for everyone. Too often, governments lack the political will to implement international norms they have willingly accepted. This anniversary year is an occasion to build up that will. It is a chance to ensure that these rights are a living reality – that they are known, understood and enjoyed by everyone, everywhere. It is often those who most need their

human rights protected who also need to be informed that the Declaration exists – and that it exists for them. May this year reinvigorate us in that mission. Let us

make the Universal Declaration of Human Rights an

integral part of everyone’s life.

Panel Discussion

Jody Kollapen

Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission

T hank you very much Commissioner Nyan-

duga, for that inspiring lecture. The ques-

tion we must ask is: have human rights

become convenient slogans that we often

attach and add on as an afterthought?

  • I am reminded of a story about a former minister

who became quite notorious in his attempts to deal

with crime. He said, “You know, we’ve got to get these

criminals and we’ve got to bash them and beat them up

and kick the hell out of them!” So his advisor, who had come from a human rights background, said, “Look Minister, the next time you

go public, you can’t speak in that way. We have a

Constitution; we have a Bill of Rights.”

At the next occasion, true to form, the minister said, “We must get these guys and we must bash them up,

and then lock them up!” His advisor shot him a look

and he said, “And of course, we must do all this within a human rights framework!”

So one sometimes wonders whether indeed we’ve internalised the human rights values that we hold so dear. I ask the question, coming at the end of 16 Days

of Activism to deal with gender-based violence, do we

associate ourselves with gender equality because the law says women are equal? Or do we do so because, as a matter of belief and principle, we believe women are equal? It’s quite different. If you need the law

to tell you people are equal, then there’s something

fundamentally missing. But if you believe it as a

matter of principle and if it’s internalised then it’s quite different. Your approach to dealing with gender issues should not be shaped by the law, not that I’m not undermining the importance of the law.

  • I think we still have a long way to go. If the

Human Rights Commission of South Africa were

to close tomorrow, would people of South Africa march down the streets and say, “You cannot close the commission!” That’s the kind of litmus test I think we should have for institutions like ours.

People say human rights are universal, indivisible and

Panel Discussion Jody Kollapen Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission T hank you very much Commissioner

Jody Kollapen.

interdependent, without unpacking what that means. If you look at the current international debates

around human rights, there’s a quarter that argues that human rights are about constraining the power of the state. Those who argue that line would argue that

issues like fighting torture and abuse, and allowing

people to participate freely in the political life of the nation, are absolutely important, and that the human rights machinery should simply ensure that the state doesn’t unduly interfere in that process. Others, however, would argue that human rights are both about constraining the power of the state on the one hand, and on the other, creating obligations on the state to ensure the development of human potential and the individual in a society. This means that you’re not simply saying that human rights are about blocking the

power of the state, but human rights are about creating

obligations on the part of the state as well as non-state

actors, in order to fulfil human rights. And that’s often

where the debate comes unstuck.

If you look at the resolutions of the United Nations

Human Rights Council, you will find that many

developing countries oppose resolutions that seek to

There is also the problem of what I call “the

commodification of human

rights”: the reality is that more

and more, human rights are becoming commodities that you buy and sell.

constrain the power of the state, and many developed countries oppose resolutions that seek to create obligations on the part of the state. For example, a very

innocent resolution of the Human Rights Council two years ago said that globalisation is a reality. But could

we pass a resolution to try and infuse a commitment to development in the process of globalisation? The

resolution was passed, but the developed world voted against that resolution, and the developing world voted

for the resolution. And I’m not saying they’re the bad guys and the others are the good guys. Certainly, at the international level there isn’t quite a common understanding.

Perhaps this is captured most eloquently by a

Scandinavian human rights expert, Asbjorn Eide, who asked: “What good would we have achieved if we save someone from death by arbitrary execution, only to see the same person die as a result of poverty or disease that could have been avoided?” So, we may pat ourselves on the back and say, “We’ve saved this guy from a repressive government in Africa,” but we don’t ask ourselves whether

There is also the problem of what I call “the commodification of human rights”: the reality

Jody Kollapen.

our trade policies or whether the policies of the pharmaceutical companies have contributed to the same guy’s death. That’s a different issue.

But it’s not just at the international level that I’m

not sure whether we have a common understanding of

human rights. In South Africa, we pay tribute to the work of our Constitutional Court, and of course it’s wonderful

work it does. But the reality is that in South Africa,

for millions of people, there’s a disjuncture between what the court says and what they feel. So when the court pronounces on gay and lesbian marriage, a large majority of South Africa says, “We don’t want that.” It doesn’t mean that the court’s wrong, but it means that there’s a very different reality between the kind of jurisprudence and the kind of values you want to create, and the reality on the ground. That’s not the fault of the court; that could be the fault of broader society and institutions like ours. You will recall that when Tony Yengeni was released from prison in 2007 and wanted to perform a customary, traditional function of thanking his ancestors, there was an outcry with regard to the slaughtering of a cow. That outcry manifested quite clearly the divides in our own

country. By and large white people said “That’s cruelty to animals, we need to get the SPCA to prosecute Tony

Yengeni but please, we’re going hunting this week, don’t worry us!” And many black people said, “That’s so insensitive, what you’re doing is taking human rights and you’re interpreting them within the context of

your own mindset and your own culture and that’s so wrong as well.” There is also the problem of what I call “the

commodification of human rights”: the reality is

that more and more, human rights are becoming

commodities that you buy and you sell. For example in South Africa, an enquiry we did into access to

healthcare found that 60% of the health spend in South Africa goes on 15% of the population, and 40% of the health spend goes on 85% of the population. So

you have two healthcare systems running parallel in the country. It’s so bad that South Africans who are on medical aid, pro rata, have more CAT scans, MRI scans, whatever scans, all these tests, than the wealthiest

people in Western Europe. I don’t doubt that those 15% of our people are as ill as that. But you need to ensure

that the private healthcare system continues to work. In the area of education we did an enquiry, and I know that the Nelson Mandela Foundation did an

enquiry as well into education in rural communities

(Emerging Voices: A report of education in South Africa).

If you go to a rural school or a township school – with some exceptions – the chances of your receiving a quality education and being able to take advantage of the opportunities in this society are quite small. The question people have asked is, “Are we going to have

to use affirmative action to deal with the consequences

of an unequal education system now?”

In the area of justice as well, we find poor women

languishing in jails, having stolen a bar of soap, or an item of food from a supermarket, while someone like Sir Mark Thatcher, who’s convicted of being involved

in quite a serious offence – part of a coup in Equatorial

Guinea – is able to negotiate from the luxury of his

Constantia home a plea bargain agreement. So how do we deal with this issue that rights belong to all of us, and they belong to all of us equally, when we know in truth and reality that our ability to enjoy rights invariably depends on the resources we have? I can’t imagine that the fact that some can buy more rights was the vision of those who developed the Universal Declaration, and the African Charter … And so this brings me to the last point: can we really have a serious discussion about rights when we don’t take stock of the architecture and the context within which those rights exist? South Africa has been hailed across the world as

being the miracle nation – the miraculous transition. But

if truth be told, the transition left much of the status quo in place. Land ownership, the judiciary, the economy:

not much changed there. And with that background

you have a wonderful Constitution and Bill of Rights that you have to implement. But how can you in truth

implement it without revisiting that architecture? The only way is to create unbearable pressure on the state

to make good. And the state is not going to be able to change the healthcare system and the education system, unless we revisit the architecture and the context. That’s

very painful; no-one wants to do it, because we say

“We’ve been there already, we’re not going back there.”

But if we don’t, then we don’t really have much

chance of giving effect to the wonderful vision of

this Constitution and the Bill of Rights. It becomes

convenient simply to say that the primary party responsible for this is government, whereas we know that they are not going to be able to do it. In this country, the inequalities that exist are not going to be addressed through the rights framework. I don’t think we should

assume we have a flourishing democracy with a strong

enquiry as well into education in rural communities (Emerging Voices: A report of education in South

Panellists Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga and Raenette Taljaard.

rights framework. Indeed, it is very fragile. If you heard recent statements with regard to those who have offered themselves as leadership for the country, there are areas of concern – whether we have

a referendum on the death penalty for example. So we

should be concerned. But we should also be concerned

that the majority of people that live in our country are

not really as excited about this Bill of Rights as you

and I are. And the simple reason for this is that it hasn’t

meant too much in their lives as yet. And if it continues to mean very little to them, what motive is there for

them to defend it? Hardly any.

ABOUT THE SPEAKER

Commissioner Jody Kollapen joined the SAHRC in 1996, after five years with Lawyers for Human Rights,

Commissioner Jody Kollapen joined the SAHRC in 1996, after five years with Lawyers for Human Rights, where he co-ordinated the Political Prisoners’ Release Programme. As a practising attorney, Kollapen worked on historically significant political cases such as the Sharpeville Six, the Delmas Treason Trial, and the failure of the Medical and Dental Council which enquired into the behaviour of the doctors who treated Steve Biko. Kollapen is responsible for Gauteng Province and oversees the work of the SAHRC relevant to Civil and Political Rights. He serves as a member of the National Council on Correctional Services, and chairs the South African Law Commission’s Project Committee on Sentencing. He is the chair of the Legal Resources Trust and serves on the board of the Centre for the Study of Violence and Reconciliation.

Discussion and Questions

Achmat Dangor, CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation:

  • I just want to make a few comments to capture what people

have said. It seems to me there’s a thread running through this: that human rights can remain a theory enshrined in law books and upheld by courts, but as long as human rights do not lead to the overcoming of inequalities that are endemic, then human rights culture will always be under pressure.

How would South Africans here in this room vote,

  • I wonder, if it came to the point where there was a referendum on the death penalty? I can tell you instinctively that some would vote “yes”,

simply out of fear, and a knee-jerk reaction: “We can

overcome crime by killing the criminals.” So I think that is one aspect of it. We also need to ask: at what stage do people opt for the bullet instead of the ballot box because they perceive it to be failing? These are some of the things that our panellists

and keynote speaker have raised. Now let’s open the

discussion to the floor.

Discussion and Questions Achmat Dangor, CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation: I just want to make a few

Raenette Taljaard and Achmat Dangor.

Tamsanqa Sithole. Tamsanqa Sithole, Webber Wentzel Bowens: I feel that we emphasise the state’s role in

Tamsanqa Sithole.

Tamsanqa Sithole, Webber Wentzel Bowens:

I feel that we emphasise the state’s role in promoting human rights, and we don’t translate that discussion to what we as individuals must and should do to translate

those principles into reality. I think of John F Kennedy: “We should not ask what our country can do for us, but what we can do for our country.” I think we should apply that message to ourselves. What are we doing to make human rights a

reality? Primarily because people at grassroots level

don’t know what human rights are. I’m reminded by a statement that was made today:

that the people who really need those rights don’t really

know about them. I think it’s ignorance, and because of that people are genuinely apathetic about it, people just don’t care. Those who do have the power, those who do have the means to help those understand those rights, don’t.

This may be because they are partly benefiting from

withholding those rights. So I think the discussion should now shift from what the state is doing or not doing, to what are we doing as individuals, and as people, to make those rights a reality?

Honourable Muhammed Waller, South Sudanese Legislative Assembly:

Let me take this opportunity to extend our warm thanks

to the South African Commission for Human Rights for

inviting us to this important seminar.

  • I concur with all that’s been said regarding human

rights, especially in Africa. But I want to reflect on an

issue Bahame Nyanduga raised – that the right to peace

is part of human rights. He talked about this issue in

Darfur. We have had a problem in the southern Sudan. We

have just signed a peace agreement, but there are a lot of problems which are hindering its implementation.

  • I don’t know whether you have seen or heard about what happened in Sudan. Some southerners were

participating in the Government of National Unity, but

then pulled out. I would like to know: how does the African Commission, and the commissioner, see that issue? I would like to know what the role of the African Commission is in this, and also the role of the other African people who are now here with us in this hall. Thank you very much.

Honourable Muhammed Waller, South Sudanese Legislative Assembly: Let me take this opportunity to extend our warm

Members of the delegation from southern Sudan.

Honourable Muhammed Waller, South Sudanese Legislative Assembly: Let me take this opportunity to extend our warm

Hassan Lorgat.

Hassan Lorgat, South African National NGO Coalition

The issue for me about the indivisibility of human rights comes to the discussion about how we deal with power. I think that individuals really have very little power, unless they are organised into some formation. We’ve ignored for a long time that the dominant power has been corporate power. For a very, very

long time – pre-United Nations. This power includes

stealing the oil resources all over the world, etcetera. That issue predates the enactment of the Universal Declaration, and it remains the issue that bedevils us

now. How can we justify, when we talk about dignity

and equality for all, to go after the small thugs in the neighbourhood, such as Milosevic – and we leave

Bush? Because Bush has got bigger guns than us. It’s

always a victor’s justice. One part of the global architecture is about

economic infrastructure. But the other part is just

about who carries guns. The states that carry big guns make things happen. And this discussion is a bit hollow in that regard. I also think we should revisit this issue: that states have a right to look after their most vulnerable people. They all say it, but they don’t

act on it. And I just want to ask you guys, why don’t

we go after the big crooks first?

Advocate George Bizos:

Thank you. I’m very pleased to be here, to mark

Human Rights Day. I was brought up in the culture in

which the apostle of apartheid, John Vorster, said that

human rights were getting out of hand in South Africa.

It had a very chilling effect. It permeated the thinking of many of us who should’ve known better. After this statement in 1979,

when a very brave speech was made by Chief Justice Corbett in Cape Town, some of us decided to form

Lawyers for Human Rights. At our first meeting, attended by Arthur Chaskalson,

Sidney Kentridge and a few other giants of the legal

profession, we discussed how we’d heard about

Human Rights Day, and shouldn’t we perhaps, as a

respectable human rights organisation which would

not easily reach the security police of John Vorster, try

and mark it in some way? Believe it or not, none of

us knew the date, and we had to phone John Dugard at Wits University, who fortunately knew that it was December 10.

(By the way, the Universal Declaration of Human

Rights was not signed, it was adopted by a resolution. It was a mistake that I made in another forum, and I

was corrected.)

Nevertheless, we tried to make use of the little space

that there was in the judicial system, as oppressive and loaded as it was, to try and protect some of the fundamental rights. We were not very successful.

  • I want to agree with the commissioner, when he

said that the African states’ implementation of the

International Declaration of Human Rights is not

encouraging. I will start with ourselves in South Africa

before briefly going over to the rest of Africa.

  • I have problems with us and the other countries.

There are people who should know better, in and out of

Parliament, who from time to time tell us we have too

“liberal” a Constitution. I have no apologies for using

the word liberal in a non-pejorative sense. It means a

lover of freedom, and we should respect all lovers of freedom, whatever our political party differences may be.

  • I ask – you want a more liberal Constitution, or a

less liberal Constitution, or leave it as it is? If you want

a less liberal Constitution, what would you introduce?

Detention without trial? Torture? Banning orders?

Forced removals? What else? What do you want to make less liberal about it? Introduce the death penalty? I have a simple answer that really shuts people up about this.

Advocate George Bizos: Thank you. I’m very pleased to be here, to mark Human Rights Day.

Advocate George Bizos.

In relation to other African countries, I am concerned about the number of times that we hear that the International Charter of Human Rights is a “Eurocentric document which is not suited for African countries.” It’s actually an implied allegation that the people of

Africa are not fit yet to be

democrats, which I reject out of hand.

Whenever anybody tells me, “Let’s introduce the

death penalty” I say, “Do you own property?” Because

it’s mostly people who do own property that tell us we should introduce the death penalty. I say, “Well, have you read Section 25 of the Constitution?” They say, “Well, what does that say?” “It says that you cannot take anybody’s property away without due compensation. Just compensation. Are you prepared to ask for a referendum before the South African citizens as a whole, to vote whether we should scrap that? If the majority of all the people of

South Africa vote in that referendum, the result would be you may lose your property!” “Oh”, they say, “that’s something else. We don’t want a referendum on that, we want a referendum on the death sentence.” And in relation to other matters, I think that our practices in relation to refugees and asylum seekers require attention. And I agree with the speakers who say that human rights in South Africa don’t provide much comfort to ordinary people. It was put very graphically to me: “I didn’t vote for the African National Congress in order to be able to use white toilets. I voted for a better life for myself and my people!” I do agree that we cannot separate that from fundamental human rights and particularly the

human rights enshrined in the Constititon; the socio-

economic rights. In relation to the other African countries, I am concerned about the number of times that we hear

that the International Charter of Human Rights is a

“Eurocentric document which is not suited to African countries.” It’s actually an implied allegation that the

people of Africa are not fit yet to be democrats, which

I reject out of hand. If you have a look at the constituent document of the African Union, you’d be surprised by the signatures that have been appended to it. Alphabetically, the last two are Swaziland and Zimbabwe. And you wonder whether his majesty and

the honourable president crossed their fingers when

they signed it. We hear rejections of the African Charter. If one studies it, of course there are some differences, but

South Africa vote in that referendum, the result would be you may lose your property!” “Oh”,

Advocate George Bizos makes a point.

fundamentally, it’s tremendously influenced by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And we do

not do much in order to put it into effect, other than

finding excuses for not complying with its provisions.

I also agree with some of the speakers who have

said that we actually find vacuous reasons for voting

in international fora to condemn dictators, violators of fundamental human rights, and those who cling to

power forever, and find clever legalistic arguments in

order to support them.

South Africa vote in that referendum, the result would be you may lose your property!” “Oh”,

Members of the panel and floor.

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us: 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of

Achmat Dangor, CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation:

There are a number of

questions … I wonder if we should start with the

more specific one, Mr

Nyanduga, the question

about Sudan. But let me just group the others so that

the panellists can respond to them. There is one that deals with the issue of economic rights, economic equality, and whether indeed human rights are not a privilege of those with resources. There’s also the question of the obligation of the individual, as well as whether we should take into account power relations between the individual and the state, and, maybe the word “gangster” is too strong, but the issue of those “big guys”, the “big guns”. We need to take into account all those power relationships between countries as well. There are political debates around very wonderful constitutions such as ours, and how there’s constantly an attempt to question it and weaken it, because of perceived injustices or unfairness to different constituencies.

And there’s one that I think somebody mentioned at

the very end, which I think we should not forget in the African context: human rights relating to migration. This is a continent of migrants; people move across borders all the time, and what about the human rights in that aspect? So let’s start with you, Tom, if you wouldn’t mind

answering that specific question and any other one you

want.

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of

Bahame Tom Nyanduga, African Commissioner:

Thank you again for the opportunity to respond to some of the issues. First of all let me start, according to African tradition, by giving deference to our senior eldest statesman.

When I met Advocate George Bizos before he came into the hall, I told him that for

me it was an immense privilege. I grew up reading his

name. Seeing him in the flesh is inspiring for me. I

want to thank him for being here today, and for sharing with us his reminiscences and observations about the issues – both South African and international.

I’m very much convinced that the instruments, international, regional, and the Bills of Rights, still are the best hope of providing the realisation of human rights.” – Commissioner, Bahame Tom Nyanduga

Referring to what Mze Bizos said, how do we

address the poverty issues? Yes, we may have the instruments to protect those rights, but what about

their realisation? It’s at this point that you look at

the institutional make-up within each state. In many African countries, you will find that they have Bills of

Rights, but the economic, social, and cultural rights are not attainable. There has always been the major challenge of getting states to undertake to implement

human rights obligations, and to feel obliged by legal norms. We have to make a choice as to which are the areas

of priority. Regarding poverty, we have about 20% of the population owning about 80% of the wealth nationally. And internationally, 80% of the world’s population owns just 20% of the world’s wealth.

I come from Tanzania, where we have gone through phases where we experienced what we call

in democratic terms the “one-party state”, which did

not allow for a variety of views. When you look at the

models, both political and economic, which are the

foundations of how individuals benefit or derive their

rights, the more democratic constitutions are probably the best upon which to build on the gains which we have already made. Regarding the question about dealing with, or the failure to deal with, the “big boys around the corner:”

it’s not a question of the international community not understanding the power relations, or failing to deal with those power relations. It’s the fact that the dynamic of international society leaves, or gives, these kinds of states the monopoly to divorce themselves from the obligations arising from these instruments. The “War against Terror” is an example. The violation of rights attendant in the campaign against

terror – the definition of what terror is – South Africa

is very much familiar with that kind of definition in the sense that the fight for freedom was considered to

be terror. And because of the peculiar situations of the 21st century, there’s now a confusion of determining

who is the freedom fighter and who is the terrorist.

I’m very much convinced that the instruments,

international, regional, and the Bills of Rights, are still

the best hope of providing the realisation of human rights.

If I may address the specific question on Sudan …

Let me say that the African Commission has followed peace processes across Africa very closely, including the peace process in the Sudan – the southern Sudan

from the time of the negotiations in Naivasha. With the adoption of the Naivasha Agreement, and if the

parties in the conflict adhere to the obligations which

they have assumed under those agreements, then the

problems which we are seeing in southern Sudan should be resolved. The problem, I think, arises when parties do not

fulfil the obligations which they have assumed, or

which they are supposed to assume under the various

peace agreements. It’s not a situation peculiar to southern Sudan alone. The experience of many peace

agreements is that they will come to a point at which they tend to stutter … but with the perseverance of the parties, particularly if the parties are committed to what they agreed upon, then I believe this should not be an insurmountable problem.

Because the experience of 30 years of civil war, one

would hope that you do not go back to it. So again, it’s an appeal to all the stakeholders in the southern Sudan

issue, the government of Southern Sudan and the

Government of National Unity, to adhere to what was

agreed on in Naivasha.

I’m very much convinced that the instruments, international, regional, and the Bills of Rights, still are

Raenette Taljaard, Helen Suzman Foundation:

  • I think on the first question from

our colleague from Webber Wentzel and indeed, to many of the questions asked by Advocate

Bizos, you’ll have to forgive me if

  • I put the academic analyst in the

closet for a moment and allow the closeted former politician out for a moment, on those two particular questions.

“It is going to take much more than a US presidential election for the global community to really confront what it means to effect multi-lateral reform.” – Raenette Taljaard

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of Us: 60th Anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

On the first one, I think that when one looks at

the delicate balance that there has to be between individuals both in a rights and obligations sense and individuals mobilised within the context of civil society, and the state adhering to the obligations that

are vested in the Bill of Rights to also take positive

action, there is a dynamic balance between those relationships, and one cannot exist in isolation of the other.

But I think perhaps the answer to your question lies

more on a philosophical level – what can move South Africans out of their ghettos of distrust which they haven’t quite dismantled 14 years into the transition,

and allow them to create a space where they both get to know one another and actually realise that they are building a country together? I will die before I give up the idealism that that is possible and that is despite six years of cynicism in viewing politics.

On Hassan Lorgat’s questions, you’re all going to

leave the room thinking I am an incurable idealist,

perhaps. There are issues in regards to power relations

that lie in the extent to which the global community will have to confront the unresolved issues of United

Nations reform and the underlying multi-lateral power

relations. I am particularly concerned that whether you’re

in the United States or whether you’re travelling internationally, people believe that the US presidential

election in 2008 is going to function as a rapid multi-

lateral silver bullet that is going to cure everything that

has happened, both in terms of the US Constitution and

in terms of multi-lateral relations.

It is going to take much more than a US presidential election for the global community to really confront

what it means to effect multi-lateral reform.

Unless those challenges are directly confronted by everyone in a community that understands the indivisibility not only of rights but of common destiny,

it’s going to be very difficult to make any multi-lateral

institution survive, whether it’s the International

Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the World Trade

Organisation or the UN system. I think we are on the

cusp of that challenge and one single election in one country in the world is not going to bring the ultimate conclusion to that.

Participants at the Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion on Dignity And Justice For All Of

Jacqueline Nzoyihera, United

Nations Offfice of the High

Commissioner for Human Rights:

Is the Universal Declaration

for Human Rights universal?

I’ve heard people ask, “Isn’t it Western?”

The drafting committee was composed of individuals from around the world:

Australia, Chile, China, France, Lebanon, the United Kingdom, the United States of America and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. I understand that some experts from Saudi Arabia and other countries also participated in the drafting of the Declaration.

John Humphrey, a Canadian, assisted the small

drafting committee as a member of the United Nations

Secretariat.

It is true that there was and still is a lot of discussion about the universality of the Universal Declaration

for Human Rights but its principles concern all of us.

The document puts forward what is now recognised as universal values: human rights are inherent to all; no one can state that this is a Western value.

With regard to the vote of the UDHR which took place in Paris on December 10, 1948, at the Palais de

Chaillot, the 58 Member States of the United Nations

General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, with 48 states in favour and eight abstentions (two countries were not present at the time of the voting).

Reflections

It was good to see people speak openly about the challenges we face, and how almost without

exception, people defended the Constitution. Human

rights will be the focus for all the Nelson Mandela Foundation’s dialogue work into the future. – Achmat Dangor, CEO, Nelson Mandela Foundation

It was good to see people speak openly about the challenges we face, and how almost

The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) is a network of think-tank organisations working in

partnership, with the focal point of human rights and

business in Africa. The discussion was interesting because usually

we’re the ones to put focus on business, but it was good to see other people analysing the role of business and international corporations. It’s important to use opportunities to take stock and see where we are the gaps are – the human rights vulnerabilities. We would like more proactive engagement with business. – Tagbo Agbazue, African Institute of Corporate Citizenship

The African Institute of Corporate Citizenship (AICC) is a network of think-tank organisations working in partnership,

Working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation has been wonderful. The name Mandela is synonymous with human rights and converting human wrongs into

human rights – he lived those rights. The roundtable was excellent; it wasn’t just a celebration, but also a critical appraisal. – Jody Kollapen, Chairperson, South African Human Rights Commission

Working with the Nelson Mandela Foundation has been wonderful. The name Mandela is synonymous with human
Bill of Rights and to It was an important event marking the adoption of the Universal
Bill of Rights and to
It was an important
event marking the
adoption of the
Universal Declaration
of Human Rights.
It is important
to speak about the

answer some of the unwarranted criticisms of our Constitution and its provisions, particularly in relation

to crime and punishment. Blaming the Constitution

isn’t very helpful – the prevalence of crime should be

addressed by the police and security services, and the administration of justice. What would those who advocate the death penalty

have us do? Would we want to allow detention without trial, torture, and so on? What would they want us to change?

Newspapers, TV, radio – the media – should

not only give an opportunity to those advocating

retrogressive steps, but have well-informed and suitably qualified people explain the importance of retaining fundamental freedoms the Constitution guarantees, and ought to emphasise the danger of retrogressive steps. – Advocate George Bizos

We are very thankful to the SAHRC for inviting us to this Human Rights Lecture and

We are very thankful to the SAHRC for inviting us to this Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion

and for their interest in the southern Sudan. We are also grateful to the South African government for their continued support and look forward to working with them on issues pertaining to

human rights. Having come here makes us live in hope

that the African Commission will help us and that our “small” problem will no longer just be ours alone. Margaret Peter Abudi, MP, Chairperson of the Southern Sudan Legislative Assembly Specialised Committee of Human Rights and Humanitarian Affairs

The Human Rights Lecture

and Roundtable Discussion

was very apt and of course timely. The presentations made sense and helped me

to reflect on the core issues

of human rights. The frank discussion on the Universal

Declaration of Human Rights was much appreciated, no-

one copped out and it was very open.

The Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion was very apt and of course timely. The presentations

– Yaa-Ashantewaa Archer-Ngidi, Siyavaya Africa (advocacy group)

“I realised that there are many challenges still facing human rights but it was heartening to see that the struggle is continu- ing. We will continue to work hard; we cannot say we have arrived.”

Lesedi Sojane, South African Human Rights Commission

We’re very glad we came. The speakers were exceptional, the panel was excellent and the venue was excellent. – Margaret Fish, Civicus

Representatives from civil society group Civicus. For a change I had a different perspective on what
Representatives from civil society
group Civicus.
For a change I
had a different
perspective on
what human
rights are and
how to achieve
the Utopian
ideals of human
rights. We have
people saying,
“human rights,
human rights”,
but not saying
what they mean.
I thought the
speakers went
into it on a
different level,

and I got a different perspective of what it means. – Tselane Moleba, Civicus

“I think it’s important that they touched on issues regarding human rights both internationally and locally. We still have a long way to go to

move people from the culture of blaming the Bill of Rights and the Con-

stitution for everything that goes wrong in the country. We need these kinds of dialogues to educate ourselves, in order to educate others about

human rights.” Steven Ngobeni, South African Human Rights Commission

I thought reflective, I liked her mention of Raenette Taljaard’s input was very This was a
I thought
reflective, I liked
her mention of
Raenette Taljaard’s
input was very
This was a great
partnership with
the South African
Human Rights
Commission.

living Mandela’s values, as well as her articulation of the hurdles facing the attainment of human rights.

Having a representative from the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights was also very special. – Naomi Warren, Dialogue Co-ordinator, Nelson Mandela Foundation

The African Commission is thinking about establishing a standard curriculum for primary and high school to

The African Commission is thinking about establishing a standard curriculum for primary and high school to establish the

most basic principles of human rights. A knowledgeable person contributes so much to the welfare of society. So if people are knowledgeable about human rights, and which rights accrue to you as a person, you’ll know how to treat people. Understandings of human rights are not the same. Dialogue between different people helps achieve a common understanding of what human rights are. It is important to agree on fundamental principles such as equality, for example. And dialogue is the process of doing that. – Bahame Tom Nyanduga, Commissioner with the African Commission on Human and People’s Rights and Special Rapporteur on Refugees, Asylum Seekers, Internally Displaced Persons and Migrants in Africa

“I appreciated the emphasis on obligations rather than rights. This emphasis on obligations is a far more useful tool to mobil- ise people.”

– Chrystal Cambanis, Legal Aid Board

Dialogues are very important, especially when the angle is critical about our achievements. As long as

we push those debates … This particular Human

Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion is the beginning of a more critical discourse on human rights; it’s different from a kind of human rights

idolatory, which is important. This kind of critical discourse is needed to cause conceptual shifts in our understanding of human rights. – Dr André Keet, South African Human Rights Commission

Dialogues are very important, especially when the angle is critical about our achievements. As long as

“It was an interesting session. The time factor was a bit of a

problem in terms of the issues that came through. People spoke broadly; maybe next time it would be better to focus on a spe-

cific topic.” – Tanuja Munoo, South African Human Rights Commission

The discussion was fruitful; the role of the African Commission became clear to me. I also liked the frank discussion about the problems facing human

rights in the world. It is appalling that even though the Universal Declaration was signed 60 years ago, situations such as Darfur are still occurring. It makes you wonder if the Declaration is worth the paper it’s written on. Moleshiwe Magana, Legal Resource Centre

I thought it was very exciting, especially the frankness with which people spoke. The over-riding feeling

I thought it was very exciting, especially the frankness with which people spoke.

The over-riding

feeling I have is one

of frustration – from

every speaker. How

on earth do we close

this gap, between

having human rights on paper, and practising them? It’s the key question now, what strategies do we employ? It’s opened up several issues for the Foundation to take forward. – Verne Harris, Head of Memory Programme, Nelson Mandela Foundation

The Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion helped me to reflect on the daily work we

The Human Rights Lecture and Roundtable Discussion helped me to reflect on the daily work

we do, and how as individuals and through the institutions we work for, we are living and promoting the Universal Declaration. We need to make human

rights a very significant issue in our daily lives. –

Mothomang Diaho, Head of Dialogue Programme, Nelson Mandela Foundation

The discussion was fruitful; the role of the African Commission became clear to me. I also

Naomi Warren of the Nelson Mandela Foundation thanks panellist Raenette Taljaard, while keynote speaker Commissioner Bahame Tom Nyanduga looks on.

Universal Declaration of Human Rights

Adopted and proclaimed by General Assembly Resolution 217A (III) of 10 December 1948

O n December 10, 1948 the General

Assembly of the United Nations

human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person and in the equal rights of men and women and have determined to promote social progress and better standards of life in larger freedom, Whereas Member States have pledged themselves to

adopted and proclaimed the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the full text of which appears in
adopted and proclaimed the
Universal Declaration of Human
Rights, the full text of which appears in the
following pages. Following this historic act the
Assembly called upon all Member countries
to publicise the text of the Declaration and
“to cause it to be disseminated, displayed,
read and expounded principally in schools
and other educational institutions, without
distinction based on the political status of
countries or territories.”
achieve, in co-operation with the United Nations, the
promotion of universal respect for and observance of
human rights and fundamental freedoms,
Whereas a common understanding of these rights
and freedoms is of the greatest importance for the full
realization of this pledge,
Now, Therefore THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY
proclaims THIS UNIVERSAL DECLARATION
OF HUMAN RIGHTS as a common standard of
PREAMBLE
Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of
the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the
human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and
peace in the world,
Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights
have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged
the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world
in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech
and belief and freedom from fear and want has been
proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common
people,
Whereas it is essential, if man is not to be compelled
to have recourse, as a last resort, to rebellion against
tyranny and oppression, that human rights should be
protected by the rule of law,
Whereas it is essential to promote the development
of friendly relations between nations,
Whereas the peoples of the United Nations have
achievement for all peoples and all nations, to the
end that every individual and every organ of society,
keeping this Declaration constantly in mind, shall
strive by teaching and education to promote respect
for these rights and freedoms and by progressive
measures, national and international, to secure their
universal and effective recognition and observance,
both among the peoples of Member States themselves
and among the peoples of territories under their
jurisdiction.
Article 1.
All human beings are born free and equal in
dignity and rights.They are endowed with reason and
conscience and should act towards one another in a
spirit of brotherhood.
Article 2.
Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms
in the Charter reaffirmed their faith in fundamental
set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of
any kind, such as race, colour, sex, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin,
property, birth or other status.
(Source: http://www.un.org/Overview/rights.html)
36
Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

Furthermore, no distinction shall be made on the

basis of the political, jurisdictional or international status of the country or territory to which a person

belongs, whether it be independent, trust, non-self-

governing or under any other limitation of sovereignty.

Article 3.

Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person.

Article 4.

No one shall be held in slavery or servitude; slavery and the slave trade shall be prohibited in all their

with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

Article 13.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of movement

and residence within the borders of each state.

(2) Everyone has the right to leave any country,

including his own, and to return to his country.

Article 14.

(1) Everyone has the right to seek and to enjoy in

forms.

other countries asylum from persecution.

Article 5.

(2) This right may not be invoked in the case of

No one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment.

Article 6.

prosecutions genuinely arising from non-political

crimes or from acts contrary to the purposes and principles of the United Nations.

Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as a person before the law. Article 15. (1)
Everyone has the right to recognition everywhere as
a person before the law.
Article 15.
(1) Everyone has the right to a nationality.
Article 7.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his
All are equal before the law and are entitled
without any discrimination to equal protection of the
law. All are entitled to equal protection against any
discrimination in violation of this Declaration and
against any incitement to such discrimination.
nationality nor denied the right to change his
nationality.
Article 16.
(1) Men and women of full age, without any
Article 8.
Everyone has the right to an effective remedy by
the competent national tribunals for acts violating the
fundamental rights granted him by the constitution or
by law.
limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the
right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled
to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at
its dissolution.
(2) Marriage shall be entered into only with the free
and full consent of the intending spouses.
Article 9.
(3) The family is the natural and fundamental group
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary arrest,
detention or exile.
unit of society and is entitled to protection by society
and the State.
Article 10.
Article 17.
Everyone is entitled in full equality to a fair and
public hearing by an independent and impartial
(1) Everyone has the right to own property alone as
well as in association with others.
tribunal, in the determination of his rights and
obligations and of any criminal charge against him.
(2) No one shall be arbitrarily deprived of his
property.
Article 11.
Article 18.
(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the
Everyone has the right to freedom of thought,
right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty
conscience and religion; this right includes
according to law in a public trial at which he has had
all the guarantees necessary for his defence.
(2) No one shall be held guilty of any penal
offence on account of any act or omission which
did not constitute a penal offence, under national or
freedom to change his religion or belief, and
freedom, either alone or in community with others
and in public or private, to manifest his religion
or belief in teaching, practice, worship and
observance.
international law, at the time when it was committed.
Nor shall a heavier penalty be imposed than the one
that was applicable at the time the penal offence was
committed.
Article 19.
Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion
and expression; this right includes freedom to hold
Article 12.
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference
opinions without interference and to seek, receive
and impart information and ideas through any
media and regardless of frontiers.
Dignity And Justice For All Of Us 37
Article 26. generally available and higher education shall be equally accessible to all on the basis
Article 26.
generally available and higher education shall be
equally accessible to all on the basis of merit.
(2) Education shall be directed to the full
education that shall be given to their children.
Article 27.
share in scientific advancement and its benefits.
(2) Everyone has the right to the protection of
the author.
Article 28.
Article 29.
(2) In the exercise of his rights and freedoms,
Article 30.

Article 20.

(1) Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful

care and assistance. All children, whether born in or

out of wedlock, shall enjoy the same social protection.

assembly and association.

(2) No one may be compelled to belong to an

(1) Everyone has the right to education. Education

association.

shall be free, at least in the elementary and fundamental stages. Elementary education shall be compulsory.

Article 21.

(1) Everyone has the right to take part in the

Technical and professional education shall be made

government of his country, directly or through freely chosen representatives.

(2) Everyone has the right of equal access to public

service in his country.

development of the human personality and to the strengthening of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms. It shall promote understanding, tolerance and friendship among all nations, racial or religious groups, and shall further the activities of the United Nations for the maintenance of peace.

(3) The will of the people shall be the basis of the

authority of government; this will shall be expressed

in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.

Article 22. (3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of Everyone, as a
Article 22.
(3) Parents have a prior right to choose the kind of
Everyone, as a member of society, has the right to
social security and is entitled to realization, through
national effort and international co-operation and in
(1) Everyone has the right freely to participate in the
accordance with the organization and resources of
each State, of the economic, social and cultural rights
indispensable for his dignity and the free development
of his personality.
cultural life of the community, to enjoy the arts and to
the moral and material interests resulting from any
Article 23.
scientific, literary or artistic production of which he is
(1) Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of
employment, to just and favourable conditions of work
and to protection against unemployment.
(2) Everyone, without any discrimination, has the
right to equal pay for equal work.
Everyone is entitled to a social and international
order in which the rights and freedoms set forth in this
Declaration can be fully realized.
(3) Everyone who works has the right to just and
favourable remuneration ensuring for himself and
his family an existence worthy of human dignity, and
supplemented, if necessary, by other means of social
protection.
(1) Everyone has duties to the community in which
alone the free and full development of his personality is
possible.
(4) Everyone has the right to form and to join trade
unions for the protection of his interests.
Article 24.
Everyone has the right to rest and leisure, including
reasonable limitation of working hours and periodic
holidays with pay.
everyone shall be subject only to such limitations
as are determined by law solely for the purpose of
securing due recognition and respect for the rights and
freedoms of others and of meeting the just requirements
of morality, public order and the general welfare in a
democratic society.
Article 25.
(3) These rights and freedoms may in no case be
(1) Everyone has the right to a standard of living
adequate for the health and well-being of himself
exercised contrary to the purposes and principles of the
United Nations.
and of his family, including food, clothing, housing
and medical care and necessary social services, and
the right to security in the event of unemployment,
sickness, disability, widowhood, old age or other lack
of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control.
(2) Motherhood and childhood are entitled to special
Nothing in this Declaration may be interpreted as
implying for any State, group or person any right to
engage in any activity or to perform any act aimed at the
destruction of any of the rights and freedoms set forth
herein.
38
Dignity And Justice For All Of Us

About the Organisations

About the Organisations South Africa’s Constitution (1996) enshrines the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule

South Africa’s Constitution (1996)

enshrines the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule of law. Everyone in South Africa, including the government, and all laws are subject to and must follow the Constitution. The Constitution also contains the

Bill of Rights, which it describes as the “cornerstone of

democracy in South Africa” and compels the State to

“respect, protect, promote and fulfil the rights in the Bill

of Rights”. Recognising that the protection and promotion of human rights cannot be left to individuals or the

government, Chapter Nine of the Constitution creates independent national institutions, subject only to the

Constitution and the law, to transform our society from

its unjust past and to deliver the fundamental rights in the Constitution to all in South Africa.

The South African Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) is one such national institution, which derives its powers from the Constitution and the Human

Rights Commission Act of 1994. It is also given additional powers and responsibilities by other national legislation. Since its inauguration on October 2, 1995, the Commission has taken up the challenge of ensuring that the noble ideals expressed in our Constitution are

enjoyed by all in South Africa. The SAHRC works with

government, civil society and individuals, both nationally

and abroad, to fulfil its Constitutional mandate. For more

information please visit www.sahrc.org.za

The Nelson Mandela Foundation is a not- for-profit organisation established in 1999 to support its Founder’s

The Nelson Mandela

Foundation is a not- for-profit organisation

established in 1999 to support its Founder’s ongoing engagement

in worthy causes on his

retirement as President

of South Africa. The Foundation is registered as a trust, with its board of trustees comprising prominent South Africans selected by the Founder. The Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Dialogue was inaugurated by Nelson Mandela on September 21, 2004, and endorsed as the core work of the Foundation in 2006. The Nelson Mandela Foundation, through its Nelson Mandela Centre of Memory and Dialogue,

contributes to the making of a just society by promoting the vision and work of its Founder and convening dialogue around critical social issues.

Memory For Justice

Memory resources documenting the life and times of Nelson Mandela are to be found in an extraordinary range of locations, both within South Africa and internationally. We believe that the vehicle for sharing memory effectively, for growing it, and for engaging it in the promotion of justice, is dialogue.

Dialogue For Justice

It is committed to utilising the history, experience, values, vision and leadership of its Founder to provide

a non-partisan platform for public discourse on critical

social issues. Achieving community participation in

decision-making, even at policy levels, is prioritised. The Centre aims to perpetuate and re-invigorate the

culture of engagement using the examples set by Mr

Mandela of inclusive and open dialogue that South Africa is famous for. For more information please visit www.nelsonmandela.org.

About the Organisations South Africa’s Constitution (1996) enshrines the supremacy of the Constitution and the rule

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), a part of the United

Nations Secretariat, is the global authority on human rights. It represents the world’s commitment to universal ideals of human dignity and has been given a unique

mandate to promote and protect all human rights.

Headquartered in Geneva, the Office is also present in

some 40 countries.

Headed by the High Commissioner for Human Rights, a position established by the General Assembly

in 1993 to spearhead the United Nations’ human rights

efforts, OHCHR offers leadership, works objectively,

educates and takes action to empower individuals and assist States in upholding human rights. For more information please visit www.ohchr.org.

South African Human Rights Commission tel: Head Office, Gauteng +27 11 484 8300 fax: +27 (0)

South African Human Rights Commission tel: Head Office, Gauteng +27 11 484 8300 fax: +27 (0) 11 484 7149 email: lmolepo@sahrc.org.za

website: www.sahrc.org.za

South African Human Rights Commission tel: Head Office, Gauteng +27 11 484 8300 fax: +27 (0)

United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights Regional Office: Southern Africa tel: +27 12 (0) 354 8686/80 fax: +27 12 (0) 354 8681 email: ohchr@un.org.za

website: www.ohchr.org

South African Human Rights Commission tel: Head Office, Gauteng +27 11 484 8300 fax: +27 (0)

Nelson Mandela Foundation

tel: +27 (0) 11 728 1000 fax: +27 (0) 11 728 1111 email: nmf@nelsonmandela.org

website: www.nelsonmandela.org

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